In last week’s column I wrote about the Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza incident. That incident was akin to grown men behaving like children with racism thrown in the mix. It seems as though some people, who are fans of Freddie Roach, took the article as nothing more than an attack on him and a way to avoid a discussion of Ariza.
Ariza is, by all accounts, a hot tempered meathead. Maybe I am being unfair, but my expectations for him to behave in a dignified or classy way have been pretty low for a long time. That doesn’t mean he deserves to be racially abused. Roach, on the other hand, has been an ambassador of the sport. With the help of Pacquiao, he has become iconic. In my previous article I was focused on the language used in an angry exchange between these two men. I was and still am concerned that Roach demeaned Ariza by using racial slurs.
I doubt Roach was conscious of how public his comments would become, but it does open up an opportunity for a dialogue on race. Most white people haven’t really thought too much about race and are quick to excuse racial rantings as some kind of unbearable error. My point is, that’s not okay.
Race separates people by creating differences. Our differences matter and we all want to be seen for who we are. However, in this country, because of our history, being a person of color, is linked to stereotypes that we can actively work to dispel or we can perpetuate. I think Freddie Roach perpetuated negative stereotypes with his language. I must say when people have gotten angry with me I have never been called an F###### white guy. I think that’s because calling me a white guy isn’t pejorative, while calling Ariza a Mexican is.
I understand that Freddie was angry and when people are angry they do and say lots of things they may regret. I also understand that in this case both sides where provoking the other for the media attention and all that came with it. All the same, maybe this is exactly the sort of situation that can cause us to think more deeply about our individual roles in not perpetuating racism and stereotypes.
Racial erasure, or the idea that difference doesn’t matter is of no help. The first grade teacher who tells us the color of her students’ skin doesn’t matter because she loves everyone has it wrong. Race matters and for those who are Black or brown they live with the ascriptions others place on them every day all day.
A good starting place is to think about our individual responsibility. I can ask myself every day, how will I dispel racism today by not taking advantages that a person of color would not be offered? I can speak out when I think individuals have demeaned persons of color and I can actively work to try and make our country a fairer place to live. That is why I wrote my last article.